To finish our May travels, Ken and I decided to visit his old haunt in northern Italy for a long weekend. We took an eleven hour train trip that traversed all of Germany, through Austria to get to northern Italy! I had the opportunity to see many a cow and hill – but also vineyards, the Alps and rolling countryside. Once we arrived, we were greeted with open arms, Italian wine and a lovely dinner with Ken’s old colleagues. It almost felt like a homecoming, and throughout our visit, Ken’s old colleagues did all they could to make us feel welcome and included in both work and play!
Trento is a pre-Roman city located in a valley in the Dolomites, the mountain range south of the Alps. Walking around Trento, you get to experience history first hand. The streets are winding and narrow. The buildings are covered in Renaissance frescoes. A 13th Century castle overlooks the city. Vineyards, cherry trees and fig trees scatter the mountainside. The original old city wall still stands in many locations as well. The city is a wonderful example of old and new cultures, architecture, customs and food living harmoniously.
One evening before dinner, we were invited to support the University of Trento’s Engineering department’s dragon boat team. We drove a little way outside of Trento to lago caldonazzo and enjoyed a beautiful evening by the lake. We strolled along the water and enjoyed a beautiful sunset amidst peaceful surroundings and excited friends.
We visited the 13th century castle, Buonconsiglio, and were able to see 15th century International Gothic frescoes of traditional feudal life throughout the seasons. We ate gelato just off of the Piazza Duomo, where the fountain topped with Neptune/Poseidon holding a Trident pays homage to Trento’s original Roman name: Tridentum (Tri Dentum, meaning ‘Three Teeth’) because of the three hills that surround the city. We drank Spritz while sitting in the sun.
But we didn’t only come to Trento to see old friends and beautiful architecture – we also came for the food, coffee, and wine. There is nothing that beats true Italian food, and the Italians say it has to do with the freshness of local ingredients and water. What’s more, Italians don’t only produce delicious food, they are also inclined to talk about food – a past time which I enjoy as well. One evening, while feasting on house-made gnocchi and fresh shaved speck, we spoke about the American origins of tomatoes, the original Italian pizza (and later introduction of mozzarella in order to treat Queen Margheretta) and how to prepare a proper lasagna. Ending the night with grappa and gelato was a perfect ending to most evenings.
Italy – we will be coming back!